Thursday in Beijing

Well I am unable to get online in the hotel room so I am typing this using word hoping I will be able to cut and past it later. It is 9:30 Thursday night. Today we looked at a couple of kids stores with toys and clothes, next we meet a couple people for lunch, then we checked out the hospital that most foreigners use, and finally a trip to look around IKEA. IKEA stuff looks the same here and the cafeteria has the Swedish meatballs. Tonight we went out to dinner with another couple to a restaurant they like famous for its dumplings. It was pretty good but we were not keen on the desserts. Right now Steve is down getting a massage and Zoe is sleeping. She slept through all of dinner too. I went and had a massage last night. It helped work out the kinks this hard bed has caused. Tomorrow we are going to see the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, then go check out someone’s house because they said it would be a great area for us to live in, and finally do some shopping. We have not bought one thing since we arrived. We want to try to make it to the Silk Market or some other place like that tomorrow afternoon. However this makes for a long and hectic day for Zoe. We are also hoping to lounge by our pool for a bit tomorrow evening it is really cool but we haven’t found time to get there yet.

As for Beijing it is a huge city and it can take a long time to get around. There is a lot of traffic including pedestrians, cyclists, and motorized bikes. There are several kinds of bikes. The people, bikes, and cars all just go and you often see a person standing in the middle of the road trying to finish crossing or a bike weaving in and out of several lanes of traffic. As for the cars they use the lines on the road as a guideline often driving in between two rows of cars or along the shoulder. Also when turning right it is not uncommon to have another car squeeze between you and the curb to get in front of you. There is a lot of car honking. I can hear it outside as I type this. Amazingly we have not seen one accident it looks totally crazy and chaotic but no one seems to get hurt.

The people have been very nice. The service at the hotel is good people are always trying to carry stuff for you and always open the doors. Also no one here gets any tips. So at restaurants, the spa, your cab driver, or whoever does these things because it is how things are not to get a tip.

There are many neat looking buildings here too. There are a lot of very tall buildings and many run down looking apartment buildings usually in clusters. Everything looks dirty because of the dust from the dessert and from the pollution from the vehicles and plants nearby. There is a haze in the air although it has not been bad during our trip because it has been windy. It has also been very warm but everyone we see is wearing their winter coats. It was 21C today and it is warm. There is also a lot of neon signage and billboards everywhere. The ads on the billboards seem to line the tops of buildings and streets it is crazy. They are also doing a lot of construction to ready the city for the 2008 Olympics so there are cranes everywhere. Hopefully we will get some pictures of the buildings I think are neat. We did not replace our zoom lense yet so it may be hard as the pictures would probably be taken from the car while we are stuck in traffic.

People have been fascinated with Zoe too. And when we walked through the mall located under the hotel everyone was staring and commenting on how cute she was or making noises at her. For the most part she has lapped up all the attention. Everyone smiles at her and she is loving it. She has been pretty good for this trip only getting fussy after being trapped in the car for a long day and not being able to run around.

Our flight leaves here at 9am on Saturday and I think we land in Seattle at around 9:30 or 10 am Saturday. Very weird day with the time change. It will be a long 16 hours of traveling and we are hoping Zoe will sleep more on the long leg of the flight from Tokyo to Seattle. So she will more easily get back into the right rhythm for day and night.

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